Mumbai: BEST will use your electricity bills to buy over 300 new buses

And now, your electricity bills will fund the new buses. On March 3, mid-day reported about the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) plans to recover Rs 1384 crore from its 10 lakh electricity consumers of the island city; and one of the proposed plans with money has come forward. The Undertaking plans to buy 303 new single-decker buses that will for the first time be complying to Euro-IV norms.

BEST busesRepresentational picture

The immediate reaction of the political parties – be it the opposition parties of Congress, NCP, MNS and SP and the ruling parties of Shiv Sena and BJP from the BEST Committee – was to discontinue collection of Transport Deficit Loss Recovery (TDLR). This is the component that has earned BEST Rs 2600 crore in three years from 10 lakh electricity consumers.

The opposition wore white Nehru caps with slogan written on them ‘TDLR bandh jaalaych pahije’ as they stated that common men should not be made to pay for these buses. “I order the BEST administration to withdraw the TDLR from their petition made by them from the ARR. None of the political parties are in support of this,” said Arvind Dudhvadkar, chairman, BEST Committee.

The petition regarding the possible electricity charges for the next four years has been made to the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC). “We can only present the views when the technical validation of our ARR is made with the MERC,” said Jagdish Patil, General Manager, BEST without commenting whether administration would withdraw the ARR completely.

New buses
Nearly after more than 7 years – last time was the Undertaking procured was the Kinglong AC buses – the BEST will be getting new kind of buses for its fleet. This time around 303 number of single decker buses of Euro-IV standard, which is coming in for the first time. On the external the buses will be longer by 1 meter – these are 12 meters long while the existing ones are 11 meters – with tubeless tyres.

On the internal, there are several changes inside this 180 horsepower (HP) engine diesel bus. It will have automatic transmission gears, power steering, and self-starter. Apart from this the authorities are looking of the possibility to include WiFi, forced ventilation, and mobile charging points, more leg space for the 45-seater bus and entertainment.

The cost is a big factor here as off the cost of Rs 50.75 lakh behind each bus, the Undertaking will be paying public money of Rs 12.42 lakh as taxes and duties. “We have been asking the state government and BMC to reduce the burden of taxes, but nothing has happened,” said Ravi Raja, BEST Committee member.

When calculated, for the 303 buses the taxes amount to a humongous Rs 37.64 crore while they are spending Rs 153.77 crore in total including the taxes and duties. The BEST pays 12.63 percent as Excise duty, VAT of 12.50 percent and Octroi of 4.50 percent while procuring these buses.

The life of these buses would be 12 years wherein for the first 9 years Tata Motors – that is getting these buses within 12 months – will take care and remaining three years BEST will maintain. As of March 2016, the BEST will have 3900 buses in its fleet, and in the coming financial year they will scrap 120 buses but in turn by next March they will get these 303 buses. “Our fleet will be able to take care of 40 lakh passengers,” added Patil. The Undertaking is also looking at the possibility of hiring buses at Rs 37-39 per km where each bus would run for 180 kms per day.

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